A/N: Written for .. I hope you like it! Of course, everyone else is welcome to read too ^_^

I'm not a major SasuHina fan, so I struggled a little. Tell me what you guys think.

In an alternate universe, where I own Naruto, all the characters are too busy falling in love to be cool and fight. Be grateful I don't own it in this universe!

You would think, wouldn't you, that after sixteen years the whispers would lose their bite, the rumors would lack their venom? Instead, it was like hunger. No matter how long you endured it, there was still an ache. It might numb a little- but it was still there, still painful, still raw and tormenting so that your sleep was fraught with yearning.

These were the thoughts that ran through Hinata's mind as she huddled behind the school building, trying to stem the flow of tears. Maybe it was her fault. Like pressing a button on a DVD player, scenes began to run through her head.

Her father, standing before and above her, disdain on his long face. His hands were clenched before him as he looked down at her cowering form, so tightly that his knuckles were sharp and white. "Hinata! You're not fit to be heir to the Hyuuga household. Why is my daughter so weak? Stand up for yourself. A proper daughter of the Hyuuga's is gracious, charismatic, and charming. You are none of those. Oh, quit sniveling. I do this for love of you. You're dismissed; be on your way," he had said, and she had torn from the room with burning eyes and the weight of shame on her shoulders.

"Hinata, they'd pick on you less if you made yourself less of a target. If you were stronger, they'd leave you alone." This was Neji, her cousin, as he handed her yet another band-aid on the walk home from her school. His voice was emotionless, and she knew his resentment. It was because of her that he was trapped.

And now a girl, twelve years old, stood before Hinata, her dark hair pulled back from her severe face. "What kind of sister are you, anyway? A real sister would protect me, would be cool and an idol and stuff! They make fun of me because of you! Get cooler, you're an embarrassment."

The words and images ran through Hinata's mind so she sobbed still harder, burying her face in her knees and letting her shoulders shake with the tears that wracked her body. It wasn't her fault that her eyes were so strange, it wasn't her fault that her family had money, it wasn't her fault she spoke with a stutter. None of those things had been of her choosing- and yet they were still her problem!

"What are you crying for?" The voice was low, so cold and distant that Hinata wondered if her tormenters had found her even here. Yesterday they'd found her usual spot in the small unused room beside the gym, so she'd been forced to find this place today.

"I-I'm just s-sad," Hinata said, looking up with eyes too blurred by tears to recognize the person who had spoken to her. A small part of her hoped it was the blonde and popular Naruto, but his voice was never so cold.

"Of course you're sad. You're crying, aren't you? So why are you sad?" the voice persisted. A frown creased Hinata's face.

"Wh-why do y-y-you c-care?" she asked, wondering. Whoever cared about when Hinata cried? Pushing back the curtain of black hair, she raised her head further, blinking through the gummy remains of her tears to see a dark-haired boy standing against the fence that surrounded the school. He was reclining, his entire posture spelling out "I'm too cool" with that one foot against the fence, the crossed arms, the cocky smirk.

"You're in my territory," the boy said as both statement and explanation. Hinata felt her face begin to flame. Great. Just another reason for one more person to hate her.

"I-I'm s-sorry! I di-didn't know. T-there's j-just nowhere el-else for me t-t-to go n-now," she explained. Then, for some reason she could not fathom, she told the strange boy about being bullied, about being chased, about running here in hopes that she could find a place to be alone. "…I d-didn't r-realize that so-someone else a-already uses th-this place," finished Hinata, breathing a sigh of relief. It had been so long since she'd confessed her emotions to anyone that she'd forgotten how light her chest could feel afterwards.

"It's not like I asked for your life story or anything," the boy said, but he didn't tell her to go away, either. "What's your name, anyway?" he asked, black eyes searching her face. Hinata found herself blushing again, the way she did around Naruto.

"I-I'm Hinata. H-Hyuuga H-Hinata."

"Oh, you're the rich girl people talk about," the raven-headed boy said with a smirk. Hinata looked down, embarrassed. So now that he'd realized who she was, the taunting would begin. It was hard, but she tried to brace herself, tried to prepare for the onslaught of hurtful words. "Get up," the boy commanded suddenly, and Hinata started.

"Wh-what?" she inquired, sure she'd heard wrong. Or was this some new kind of torture, one where she had to run or something?

"Stand up," the boy said. "It's weird for you to be sitting on the ground. Or are you hurt?"

"I-I'm not h-hurt. J-just sad." Hinata frowned, realizing she didn't know the boy's name. "Wh-who are y-you?"

"You don't know? I'm Uchiha Sasuke. Now are you going to stand up or what?" the boy who was Sasuke demanded in his cold voice.

"S-sorry," Hinata mumbled, dragging herself to her feat. The knees of her three-quarter length pants had smudges of dust on them now, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Her father would just look at them later, sigh, and order some servant to buy her another pair.

Now standing, Hinata noticed that she was still several inches shorter than Sasuke. He was lean, too, with the build of a fighter. A gentle breeze made his odd hair rustle, and brought the scent of pine forest to Hinata's nose.

"Did you eat lunch yet?" Sasuke pressed suddenly, stepping closer to Hinata. The black haired girl jumped, shook her head. She wondered how to explain that the leader of her tormentors had taken her lunch, yet again, and tossed it away while throwing a new barrage of insults. "No? Fine. Let's go eat. I didn't yet either."

Hinata looked up at the boy's face. He wasn't looking at her, instead staring at the school's back door, but she wondered at him. Why was he telling her to come to lunch with him? She hadn't eaten lunch with anyone since middle school at least. "Are you coming?" Sasuke asked, and she nodded mutely, trailing behind him.

Whispers followed them down the halls. Hinata's face burned until she knew she looked like a tomato; she wondered why Sasuke tolerated this humiliation. Wouldn't it be better if she just left him now, so that his reputation wouldn't be sullied? She'd heard his name before, she realized; he was quite popular. Yet as she turned, ready to duck away and run again, Sasuke's pale hand closed over her wrist, dragging her forward.

"The only way this is ever going to stop is if you stand up for yourself. You don't even have to say anything back, just keep walking," Sasuke instructed, and Hinata looked up in awe. Was it really that simple?

"O-okay. S-sorry," she murmured, following him into the gleaming cafeteria. The smell of food and the sound of a thousand people chewing, shouting, and laughing crowded her senses, made her skittish.

A shadow fell over Hinata, who was staring intently at her handmade Italian shoes. "Oh, Rich Girl, you're back? And what the hell are you doing with Sasuke-kun? Get away from him! I didn't know you were a slut as well as an idiot," a snide voice remarked. Hinata looked up, inadvertently trembling, at the pink-headed Karin. "Just get away from Sasuke-kun, you bitch! It's bad enough that you come to school, you don't have to steal him from us too!"

"I-I d-didn't," Hinata began, but fell silent as Sasuke spoke.

"Why don't you girls just leave her alone?" His voice was as distant as ever, and he wasn't looking at Hinata or Karin. But he had stepped in. Hinata felt her heart beat a little faster. When she glanced up and caught a glimpse of Sakura and Naruto, heads bent together, she didn't even feel the usual twinge. What was wrong with her?

"But Sasuke-kun, don't you know about Hinata? She acts all innocent and sweet, but she's really a bitch! You should hear about some of the things she's done," Karin added darkly, shooting a disdainful glance at the pale-eyed girl.

Hinata felt something snap within her. It was so clear, it was almost audible. An odd, unnamable feeling rose within her, powerful and intoxicating.

"K-Karin," Hinata began, her small hands balled into fists at her side. Sasuke stood by her, an amused look on his fair face. "C-could you j-just leave m-me alone? I'm s-sick of you always h-hurting me. Wh-whatever you s-say I've done, I h-haven't done a-anything!" she said, trying to be fierce. The words left the odd taste of power lingering in her mouth. She had never, never stood up to anyone before, even in as lame a way as this.

The girl with dark pink hair stared, shocked. Hinata was supposed to cower, to look down and shake and apologize, not to talk back! "Who do you think you are, you witch?" she insisted, but something had changed. With Sasuke glaring at her so coldly, and Hinata looking at somewhere other than the ground, Karin no longer had the power. She turned, shooting a venomous glare at the black-haired girl, and stalked off. Hinata stared after her, shocked.

"Th-that's never h-happened before," Hinata confided, dazed. She longed to faint. Looking up, although slightly blinded by the glare of the cafeteria's fluorescent lighting, it was obvious that Sasuke had a smirk on his face.

Then the world moved oddly quickly, and Hinata realized she was being dragged forward, towards Sasuke. It was so odd, so strangely pleasant that she didn't resist. Even when his black eyes and pale mouth grew closer, closer, she could not pull away.

His lips hit hers in that slightly awkward way of the first kiss, but they were hard and sure against her yielding mouth. There, with the whole cafeteria watching in desperate shock, Sasuke placed his hand behind Hinata's head and kissed her without mind. The popular bad boy, the wimp of a rich girl, caught in a lip lock two feet from the trophy case. Konoha High had never had such scandal.

"You know," he muttered in her ear when they'd pulled away, breath ragged, "you always look at Naruto. Look at me, instead."

"O-okay," Hinata said. Lights seemed to dance before her eyes. Her entire body was as weightless as a hollow reed, and endorphins made her blood sing. "I'll look only at you, Sasuke-kun."



A/N: Well, hope you liked it! I had some trouble with the ending, but oh well.

Reviews are more than welcome. I promise to ALWAYS reply. If you've written a story, I'll review it, if not, I'll send a thank-you note, or dedicate something.

Suggestions and requests are, as always, welcome ^_^